Cruise lines take a hard line on refunds


Tragedy struck just as Ira Birnbaum and his wife prepared to set sail along Alaska’s scenic Inside Passage on Norwegian Cruise Line.

“The day before we were scheduled to fly to Seattle to board the cruise, I got word that my mother was gravely ill and placed in hospice,” recalls Birnbaum, who works for the federal government and lives in Annandale, Va. “The following day, the day of our scheduled cruise departure, she died.”

When Birnbaum told United Airlines about his mother’s sudden passing, it offered him its condolences and a credit for a future flight. It also waived his ticket-change fee. But when he informed his cruise line, it wasn’t so generous.

“NCL refused to give me a refund, other than port taxes,” he says. “They wouldn’t even offer a credit toward a future cruise. I called back several times in efforts to get more reasonable customer service representatives or speak to a supervisor, and I wasn’t even allowed to speak to a supervisor. Needless to say, I was stunned by their callous, insensitive attitude and outraged by their disgusting policy.”

You’d assume that a cruise line would either refund a fare or offer a credit when there’s a death in the family. Not necessarily. Some companies maintain strict no-refund rules, while other cruise lines claim to be more compassionate. But it’s almost impossible to know how strict — or compassionate — until the unthinkable happens and a close relative dies before you’re scheduled to set sail.

AnneMarie Mathews, a spokeswoman for NCL, said that refund requests are reviewed on a “case by case” basis, but that the company’s refund rules are clear: Any cancellations made within 14 days or less of the sailing date are subject to a 100 percent cancellation fee. A request for an exception must be made to the company in writing. “In the instance of Mr. Birnbaum, we are very sorry for his loss,” she said. “However, we have not received a written request from him.”

Birnbaum says that the cruise line never informed him of its refund procedure.

Although each cruise line handles credits or refunds in its own way, they do have uniform paperwork requirements, according to Michael McGarry, a spokesman for Cruise Lines International Association, an industry trade organization. “A passenger who can’t make a cruise because of a family emergency should always notify the line and insurer of the cancellation in writing, explain the circumstances, and provide any supporting information, such as a death certificate.”

But beneath the surface, there are forces at work that a traveler doesn’t see. Sales of insurance and vacation “protection” are thought to be a significant and growing portion of a cruise line’s revenue. In last year’s annual report, NCL didn’t break out its earnings from insurance sales, instead reporting $754 million in onboard and “other” revenue, an $82 million increase from a year before. That’s a little less than half the $1.8 billion in ticket revenue it reported in 2013.

Mathews says that NCL “strongly” encourages its customers to buy insurance “so that they will be covered” if there’s a death in the family before a cruise.

To prod customers into buying pricey insurance, it benefits cruise lines to take a hard line on refunds — harder even than that of airlines, known for having some of the travel industry’s least forgiving refund rules. It should come as no surprise, then, that some of the most intractable cases I’ve handled in the recent past involve uninsured passengers and intransigent cruise lines.

“Birnbaum’s case is an easy call,” says James Walker, a maritime attorney. “The poor passenger lost his mother, for goodness’ sake.”

By adopting rigid, bureaucratic policies, companies like NCL are sinking the entire industry’s image, says Kendall Carver, chairman of the International Cruise Victims Association, a group that represents cruise passengers. “Clearly, in the long run, the failure to make any refund further hurts the image of the cruise industry, which is already hurting. It’s a shortsighted approach on their part just to make a buck. It’s my feeling that in the long run, it will only hurt them more, as individuals who have had this experience are clearly going to share their bad experiences with others.”

Birnbaum suspects that NCL is imposing a too-strict “no refunds” policy that isn’t shared by the rest of the cruise industry. His wife’s niece had to cancel a recent Royal Caribbean cruise under similar circumstances — a medical emergency involving a close relative — and the cruise line offered a full credit for a future cruise.

“We’re usually pretty compassionate when a guest experiences a death in the family and is unable to take their cruise,” says Cynthia Martinez, a Royal Caribbean spokeswoman. “We work with the guest to see what is the best course of action. We can work with them to reschedule their cruise. Sometimes we give them a credit to use on a future cruise, or they may have travel insurance that they can use. It really depends on their specific situation.”

Carnival claims that it, too, is compassionate when its passengers experience a death in the family. “We are sensitive to when guests suffer a loss of a close relative and generally accommodate their wish to reschedule or provide a full refund, if requested,” says Carnival spokeswoman Aly Bello.

Birnbaum isn’t the only NCL case involving a refund request after the death of a family member. Howard and Sharon Levin were scheduled to sail to Bermuda recently on the Norwegian Dawn ship, but just before they left, their 25-year-old son died unexpectedly. NCL at first told Sharon that she’d receive no refund and that she should have purchased insurance. Then it offered her a 25 percent discount on a future cruise, which would expire after a year.

“I don’t even want my money back at this point, but the opportunity to take a cruise with my family to help heal,” she told me. “My family has been devastated by this tragedy, and I am trying, on a daily basis, to hold everyone together.”

I contacted NCL on her behalf. Initially, it did not respond. After I told the company that I was reporting on refunds, it reviewed its records and said that the Levins had accepted its discount offer. It considered the case closed.

It’s difficult to say whether these passengers would have fared any differently on a competing cruise line, since none of the lines prominently advertise their policies on refunds in the event of a family member’s death. We do know that insurance might have saved their vacation, but also that it would have benefited the cruise line.

Perhaps these families would have been better off flying to their vacation. At least they would have received a more generous credit, if not a full refund.

Are cruise line refund policies too strict?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Stuart Falk

    Unless one knowingly takes responsibility for self insuring, it is always prudent to by cancellation insurance. I would never due this through the cruise line or travel agent looking for their commission, but directly with the insurance company, using one of several reputable comparison Web sites. (I always buy mine through USAA which in turn partners with a third party insurer).

  • Richard

    The OP’s mother went from perfect health to hospice in 24 hours? I doubt it. She must have been ill for some time and her condition unexpectedly worsened. If that was the case, the OP should have purchased insurance.

  • Randy Culpepper

    Unlike airlines and hotels, cruise ships do not routinely oversell their inventory. While I truly feel for Mr. Birnbaum, why should the cruise line accept a potentially several thousand dollar loss due to the death of his mother? What’s next…free caskets or funeral sprays for unexpected deaths?

  • Cybrsk8r

    Perhaps a reasonable compromise would be to allow passengers to re-sell their cruises if they are unable to go. So they might only get 50-75% of the original cost, but that beats zero.

    I don’t see what objection the cruise line should have to this. Security? Hardly. After all, it’s highly unlikely that a terrorist will hijack a cruise liner and crash it into the Pentagon.

  • Raven_Altosk

    NCL got some REALLY bad press recently when they cited this policy in the case of a child with cancer…

    But here…why did this guy not buy cruise insurance? I mean, he knew his mother was ill or elderly, right? She didn’t go from “sick to hospice” overnight.

  • backprop

    “Needless to say, I was stunned by their callous, insensitive attitude and outraged by their disgusting policy.”

    Why does your sad situation become theirs to absorb? Why is NCL better able to take the loss created by your situation than you are, especially with just one day of notice? How’s this: I’m stunned by the OP‘s insensitive attitude and outraged by his disgusting assumptions.

    Then he lies and drags their name through the mud even more:

    “Birnbaum says that the cruise line never informed him of its refund procedure.”

    Oh PLEASE. Is that why you (inserting saracasm) took NCL to small claims and won your slam dunk case?

    And what is up with the histrionics all around today? Do cruisers in general enjoy more drama?

    “I don’t even want my money back at this point, but the opportunity to take a cruise with my family to help heal…My family has been devastated by this tragedy, and I am trying, on a daily basis, to hold everyone together.”

    All of this is just cloudy vapor obscuring what is a very straightforward contract case.

    Glad they told this one to pound sand.

  • backprop

    In this particular case, they had only one day notice. I don’t expect the cruise line OR the customer to be able to find someone…but more power to them if they do.

  • Raven_Altosk

    We always get drama in these letters. The essence of them is: “It’s non-refundable for everyone else but because I have a sob story and are too damn cheap to buy insurance, it should be refundable for me!”

  • naoma

    ALWAYS INSURE!!!! Worth the price. I travel all the time and never go without being insured.

  • naoma

    All too true.

  • jmiller45

    The quote that starts with ” I don’t even want my money back” was made by Sharon Levin who states her 25yr old son died unexpectedly.

  • MissFitz88

    I was with you until your last sentence. The snarkiness is uncalled for. I truly hope you never go through the painful, sudden and unexpected loss of a loved one.

  • backprop

    I know. That’s why I was referring to cruisers in general with that statement.

  • Kasiar001

    Insurance, purchased directly from the insurance company, is not expensive. Especially when considering the amount paid for a vacation. People are cheap, then life happens. Wish Chris would direct these cases to his frequent advice about protecting vacation investment and save his very valuable time for cases where the consumed did all the right things and got taken for a ride.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I’m sorry, but this line from the article: “To prod customers into buying pricey insurance, it benefits cruise lines to take a hard line on refunds” bothers me a LOT.

    The cost of insurance is less than the cost of the cruise. If people can afford to take a cruise, they can afford to buy insurance if they can’t afford to not take the cruise. No one is forcing folks to buy the insurance from the cruise line; there are many good policies out there that would have covered both situations listed in the article had the insurance been purchased when the initial deposits or payments were made.

    The other thing that bothered me about the article was that Mr. Birnbaum hadn’t made his claim for a refund in writing. Calling NCL to advise them of the situation is one thing, because of the immediacy of the situation. Not writing and offering documentation is another thing altogether. Even United only gave a credit, not a refund.

  • The Original Joe S

    “Sales of insurance and vacation “protection” are thought to be a significant and growing portion of a cruise line’s revenue.” DON’T BUY IT FROM THOSE BLOOD-SUCKERS! Get it from a reputable travel insurance company – Chris has pointed to several of those.

    This is the same gang of heartless scumbags who didn’t want to assist the family of the kid who suddenly had part of his liver and some other giblets removed because of cancer several days before the sail date. Only after the case was publicized did they say something to the effect of “We stand ready to assist the family in future travel” but they did not say at first they were going to be compassionate. They then offered to re-book the family, but the mother told them Bless you, and the horse you rode in on, and if you got any friends in Brooklyn, bless them too! She doesn’t even care if she doesn’t get a refund; she won’t go on their boat ride ever.

    Interestingly, it was reported [once that I saw; then it disappeared off the radar] that another cruise line offered the family a free cruise when they were able to travel.

    Yeah, let’s keep publicizing this gang’s disregard for the customers. As for me, if I wanna go on a boat ride, I’ll go sign up as a deck ape on a bird farm.

  • The Original Joe S

    I was with you until your last sentence. I hope he does…… :-Þ

  • The Original Joe S

    OR did NOT get taken for the ride! :-Þ

  • TonyA_says

    Maybe we need to change the name of this site to kvetch dot org.

  • sdir

    I spent a just a few minutes on NCL’s website and found information on cancellation fees and that cancellation requests must be submitted in writing. I realize the OP was going through a difficult time, but for all his complaining, I find it hard to believe he didn’t bother to look online and review the cancellation policy.

    I sympathize with him, losing a mother is a terrible thing. But he is expecting NCL to eat the cost of his cruise, with essentially no notice. And I agree with others, he likely had some notice his mother was ill yet didn’t buy trip insurance. It’s a sad situation, but an expensive lesson for him to learn.

  • BillCCC

    While the issue of a refund might be up for discussion there is no doubt in my mind that the cruise lines refund policies are actually very clear and fair. One can actually book a cruise one year in advance and then cancel in six months and receive a full refund. There are certainly problems with the cruise line industry but their refund policies are not one of them.

  • jim6555

    Every day, people die without warning from heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, etc. If you do have indication that a family may be facing a crisis, is it even possible to purchase insurance a few days before a cruise leaves? I thought that insurance had to be purchased on or close to the date that the tickets were purchased.

  • bodega3

    Sad post..

  • Richard

    Sudden illness wasn’t the issue, it was sudden hospice care. The OP didn’t report sudden illness and hospitalization, it was straight to hospice – end of life treatment. That strongly suggests his mother had some serious condition and it turned worse unexpectedly or sooner than expected.

  • bodega3

    You can purchase 3rd party insurance up to the last minute.

  • The Original Joe S

    Just being snarky……

  • bodega3

    Just to be clear, the price you pay for 3rd party insurance isn’t less than what your Travel Consultant can sell you for the same company. As with any product, an agency will pick one or two companies to offer. So if you want to get your own, fine. But because a agency might make a commission on a sale shouldn’t be the reason to not get it through them.

  • Travelnut

    Wishing tragedy on someone isn’t snarky. My sister passed away right before a planned vacation last January. Believe me, it sucked.

  • jim6555

    I believe that there is a way to take a bad situation and make it an advantageous one for the affected passengers and for the cruise line. Passengers who had to cancel because of the death of a close relative could be given the opportunity to take another cruise on a standby basis. The replacement cruise could not be booked until 14 days before scheduled departure. By then, the cruise line should be able to predict whether the ship will sail with empty cabins. The line could charge a small administrative charge to cover the costs involved with re-booking. Having a cabin occupied means significant additional revenue possibilities for the cruise line. An occupied cabin means that there are passengers who will purchase alcoholic beverages, restaurant upgrades and gift shop items. They might also take shore trips and spend time gambling in the casino. It also means additional tips for cruise line service personnel who earn little salary and rely on tips for income.

  • Bill___A

    I sympathize with the Birnbaums’ loss.
    I think my credit card comes with insurance for situations like this… seems to me that it would be a lot easier if people either bought travel insurance or used a credit card that had it.

    Imagine if this were a discussion about medical services:

    Do people travel all over without medical insurance and then call Mr. Elliott if the medical facilities give them a big bill?

    Insurance is for mishaps, whether it be an illness or other calamity. If the cruise lines charge too much for it, then maybe find another vendor.

  • AJPeabody

    Let’s just make a list for everyone.

    Don’t build on a flood plain.
    Don’t eat the yellow snow.
    Don’t sign without reading.
    Buy travel insurance.
    Never slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide.

    There are others, but you get the idea.

  • pauletteb

    The problem with cruise-line promoted “insurance” is that its fine print definitely favors the cruise line and rarely pays what the consumer expects. Yes, purchase travel insurance, but NOT the cruise line’s policy.

  • pauletteb

    May your unfeeling, insensitive post come back to haunt you!

  • Cybrsk8r

    Well, MAYBE if you don’t like this site, you should quit coming here.

  • Cybrsk8r

    Good thing I have no desire to go on a cruise. Ever.

  • LipglossandaBackpack

    Insurance is a hell of a lot more expensive than writing to consumer advocates and begging for them to spend hours working to get your money back for free.

  • TonyA_says


  • Alan Gore

    What’s next is likely to be passengers taking road trips instead of your ripoff cruise line.

  • Alan Gore

    I have proposed this on a few occasions for all those nonrefundability situations. Transferability would free cruise companies and airlines from having to spend staff time investigating individual circumstances.

    The response I have always gotten has always been always the same: the company has every right to double-dip whenever they feel like it, and the customer be damned for even questioning that right. They will even admit that double-dipping is built into their business model.

  • Christopher Elliott

    Your comments will be missed if you leave. You bring a valuable perspective to the discussion.

  • TonyA_says

    Maybe it’s time you clean up your list of commenters and exclude perverts.

  • Freehiker

    I have a NCL cruise coming up in 2 months. When I booked through their website it mentioned MANY times exactly what the refund policy was.

    It sucks his mother died, but he lost his money because he chose to gamble by not buying insurance. His fault.

  • Life Lessons Military Wife

    Why in the world do people still not get travel cancellation insurance on any trip where they can’t afford to lose the money? So, the cruise company is supposed to let that cabin go unsold along with every other person who had a family member die and where does the cruise line draw the line on what is considered family? How about grandparents? Or an aunt and uncle? Perhaps cousins and distant relatives who raised you. I sympathize with the poster, I really do…what a difficult thing to go thru but what if he had fallen and broken his leg and couldn’t travel or something else happened? The cruise line is a business and any dealings with them you have to treat as such. It’s just like being a landlord. I run our homes we rent out like a business. Sure you can decide how sympathetic you can be, and I have helped people out before in the past, but if I were to not collect money every time something terrible happened, I would be run out of business.

  • commentfromme

    I feel very bad for the OP. Losing a parent is a life crises, and very traumatic. However, the purpose of paying for insurance is to cover losses under unwanted scenarios. I carry fire insurance for my home….I hope to hell never to need the policy. I have auto insurance….and have needed it once. I have insurance for my pet’s health, medical insurance, and homeowners insurance. I buy insurance out the wazoo. The entire concept of insurance is designed around a premise that many buy in….so that there is money to pay out to the few who claim it. The LUCKIEST ones pay for insurance, but never need it! That’s when I feel that I hit the jackpot.

  • JH

    This helps me understand that there are major differences between cruise line management ways. I now can scratch off NCL’s name from the list of possibles for me. Its action in the Birnbaum’s sad situation is really amazing. No individual employee would ever deny their appeal, but an individual had to deny it by company policy to keep his/her job. NCL forces its employees to do unspeakably inhumane acts for a rich bottom line. This is the worst of the worst in the business world and I will stay clear of Norwegian Cruise Lines.

  • bodega3

    As someone who sells travel, I will go to bat for a client but the bottom line is that life happens and you need to be prepared and not get upset when you don’t.

  • bodega3

    Good post!

  • JH

    You’re right. But some gentle folk are not so informed about protecting themselves. I do buy insurance when appropriate., But I may be a more informed traveler than some. But really, you are right. However, I have written off NCL.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    Cruise lines are running a business, not a charity. They can’t fill that cabin on such short notice. Buy insurance, people, buy insurance in case of a sad happening like this one. Although I have a problem with the mother so sick she died … did this happen overnight? No, I don’t think so.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    The purpose of insurance is to cover financial risks that you don’t can’t afford to lose, handle, etc.

    For years, I have two sayings about insurance: ”
    It is better to have insurance and never use it than don’t have insurance and have to use it.”

    “Plan for the worst and expect the best.”

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    I agree, they can’t fill that cabin on the day of departure…even in a few weeks? If you are retired, it might be easy to travel at the last minute. If you are working, it could be hard to get time off (i.e. my wife submitted her PTO requests for Thanksgiving and Christmas in July) in short period of time; etc.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    I agree…never purchase a travel protection plan (I don’t use ‘insurance’ since it is not licensed as an insurance policy as well as regulated by the state insurance commissioners) from a travel provider (i.e. airline, cruise line, tour operator, etc.)…always purchase a travel insurance policy.

  • bodega3

    Yes and no. A major reason to buy your coverage separately is for default. However, here in the State of CA, if the vendor is registered to sell in CA and the traveler is a resident of CA, there is protection for default, besides your credit card, which is how you should always pay for your travel arrangements. With that in mind, look at what the vendors policy is with, what it covers. I just bought a vendors policy for my travel package that I purchased this past week. I got coverage for before I travel and coverage for when we are on the trip for over $300 per person LESS than what I could have paid to the travel insurance company we offer to clients. We get preexisting coverage since I took it out at the time of deposit and it has a cancel for any reason coverage.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    I am glad that you were able to get a travel protection plan offered by a travel provider that was able to match every feature including the regulatory protection (i.e. Department of Insurance) of a travel insurance policy.

    First, a travel protection plan is not licensed as an insurance policy; therefore, it doesn’t come with any protection that a State Insurance Department provides…this protection is different if a state requires registration, etc. like CA. If there is a problem, a traveler could file a complaint with the state Department of Insurance where the company is headquartered and their own state as well.

    So far, I have not found a travel protection plan (even taking away the Dept of Insurance regulatory protection) that could match benefits of a travel insurance policy. Yes, a travel insurance policy costs more a travel protection plan but you get what you pay for.

    I remember when we went to Europe, we received ‘free’ a travel protection plan. My wife told me that there is no need to purchase a travel insurance policy. I told her to read the plan and after reading it, she agreed with me that it was totally worthless as the paper that it was written on.

    The biggest thing that I found fault with travel protection plans…they are written by the travel provider and these plans favor the travel provider. I read an article about an elderly traveler that purchase a travel protection plan with a ‘Cancel for Any Reason’ benefit and became ill. He couldn’t travel and his travel protection plan give him a credit for a future tour. Unfortunately, this new medical condition prevented him from traveling again; therefore, his $ 8,000 that he spent on a tour is worthless since he can’t travel nor the credit can be transferred to someone else. If he had a travel insurance policy, he would have received CASH not a credit on future travel.

  • Randy Culpepper

    And I’m the “unfeeling, insensitive” one? Death is a part of life. It isn’t corporations’ responsibility to bear the cost of that.

  • bodega3

    Yes, you need to compare and decide which is best for you and for the state you live in. Default is a major consideration as a tour company can not offer insurance for this against themselves. Our last trip we took out coverage from the travel insurance company my agency sells. I am less concerned about getting my money back as I am about something happening while on vacation so I want medical, emergency evac, and repatriation.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    My parents and mother-in-law were not in good health in the last five years of their lives respectively. It was one of the reasons why we purchased travel insurance in case if we had to leave a cruise, tour, etc. early, etc. My mother-in-law had multiple strokes and went into a coma while we were on a tour. Things do happen and that is why there is insurance…to protect the risks that you are not willing to assume.

    If you can afford to go on a cruise then you can afford travel insurance. If you can’t afford it then assume the risks and take the lumps if they occur OR don’t go. We (the USA) are becoming a nation of people that don’t want to take responsibility for our actions or lack of actions. We want someone to bail us out every time for the poor choices that we made.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    I disagree that people are not so informed about protecting themselves. I think that it falls into two categories: 1) don’t think that something will happen and 2) if it does happen, expect someone else to pay.

    It is like people that purchase homes in a flood zone but don’t buy flood insurance then expect the government to bail them out if they lose their home in a flood. Can’t afford flood insurance than don’t buy a house in a flood zone.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    I agree with you that Chris should save his very valuable time, resources and ‘goodwill’ for cases where the consumertraveler did all of the right things but did not receive the product or service as promisedguaranteedetc.

  • Annie M

    If you cannot afford to lose everything you’ve paid for your vacation if an emergency arises like this, you need to buy travel insurance. Plain and simple, thats what insurance is for. Too many people book on their own and no one tells them why or what insurance covers. This is where the value of a travel agent comes in.

    And don’t think Royal Caribbean provides refunds or allow people to change dates all the time either, I’ve seen plenty of instances where they DIDN’T provide refunds or alternates dates too, so don’t make it seem like NCL is alone in adhering to rules.

    Buy travel insurance and you’ll probably never have to read another story like this in this column.

  • Annie M

    Don’t kid yourself by Royal’s reply- they have also refused refunds like this too. If you simply buy travel insurance, you’ll likely never have to worry about something like this. And use third party insurance, it’s almost always cheaper than the cruise lines.

  • Annie M

    Too many people that book their own travel usually are never told about the value of buying insurance. Book through a travel professional who can relay true stories of people who did have insurance and what it covered and you’ll realize the value of buying insurance.

  • Annie M

    We advise clients if you can’t afford to lose all your money if you can’t travel for a covered reason, you need to buy insurance. If you wouldn’t blink an eye losing everything – then you don’t need insurance.

  • Annie M

    Unless you are age 70 or above, third party insurance is almost always cheaper and has more coverage than the cruise lines insurance and gives you back your money in cash, not a credit towards a future trip. And if you buy the cruise line insurance and the cruise lines goes bankrupt, you have no coverage after all.

  • Annie M

    A better idea is just to buy travel insurance and not have to worry about anything.if you think a cruise line has time to monitor empty cabins and people that had to cancel because they were too cheap to buy insurance you are kidding yourself.

  • Vox_Rationis13

    Yeah, I’m with you here. While it would’ve been a nice “surprise” if the cruiseline gave the OP some special consideration, I certainly wouldn’t expect it or thought I was entitled to it. Sometimes life just sucks.

  • Vox_Rationis13

    Obviously, it’s not just cruising. Could apply to non-refundable flights / hotels… basically anything outside of a roadtrip and camping gear!

  • Vox_Rationis13

    Like this idea, although I’m sure people would still complain about being made to book too close to the sail date.

  • Frank Palmer

    He won’t be missed. With comments like has last one there is no value added.

    Adios Tony

  • Lindabator

    And depending on who they are partners with, they may offer better coverage for less than the insurance’s listed price (previously worked at a cruise-oriented agency whose TravelGuard policies were NOT dependant upon age, making it a great deal for the seniors)

  • Lindabator

    And any tour you would have booked. 24 hours prior means they have to eat the cost, so why should they when you could easily insure this?

  • Lindabator

    Untrue – had a friend who booked thru a discounter (not worth the headache), then had a death in the family. THEY chose to write the company, send in the necessary paperwork and GOT the refund from NCL. But not wanting to have to send it in writing, when that is clearly how they respond to these situations is on the OP!

  • Lindabator

    True – EVERY cruise line takes it on a case-by-case basis. And each has the RIGHT to say no.

  • Kristiana Lee

    I own my own business so I get to decide whether to bend a rule or not. I don’t know what tone he took when he talked to NCL but if he took the same tone with me that he took with Chris (“callous, insensitive attitude; disgusting policy”) I would have said no as well. I’m pretty sympathetic but he comes across as entitled.

  • bodega3

    Excellent point!

  • Daniepwils

    Here is my question. Did the cruise line then book the room last minute? How much did they make? If they made more money off of the last minute sell then reimburse the OP fully, if it was a loss, why not just reimburse what the second party paid, that way either way the cruise line makes their bottom line. It would only be fair to refund whatever amount to the original “bookie”, the OP.

  • cowboyinbrla

    Perhaps that’s the newest angle Christopher should be covering: Travel insurance companies. If the travel providers are going to be such hard-asses, maybe instead of advocating for special treatment in special cases, he could do some studies and reviews of which travel insurers offer decent coverage for the price and which ones offer junk.

  • cowboyinbrla

    Perhaps not. But a corporation has ways of mitigating their actual “cost” while doing the right thing by the customer. I doubt that every cruise sails full, so it could easily have offered the family a rebooking subject to availability on a future cruise, limiting the offered options to cruises which historically sail “not full”. The cruise line has the money up front, it has use of it long before the associated expenses, it comes off looking like the really good guys – and the net cost to them is about zero. But no – they’d rather point to a “NO REFUNDS” policy and pocket the money.

  • cowboyinbrla

    All that is true. But it’s also true that upon calling to cancel, the folks operating the phone lines could be trained to tell people that requests for refunds/credits etc. need to be submitted in writing, and here’s the address, and here’s where to find the info on our webpage. Unless, of course, you don’t WANT them to find it easily.

  • cowboyinbrla

    I noted something about this above – in fact, the cruise line could – if it wanted – create a customer for life and/or an ambassador for the line if they’d handled it right. I don’t think the 14-day window is necessary – I have an idea cruise lines know pretty well in advance how many empty cabins there will be on any cruise, on average, and could steer the customers to one of those less-full sailings. A small bouquet of flowers in the cabin with a quick note – “We hope you enjoy your rescheduled cruise, and we’re sorry for your loss that made it necessary” that someone gets the captain to sign – would have left the family thinking NCL was the best travel company in the world. But sadly, companies focused solely and relentlessly on the bottom line right this second just don’t see opportunities.

  • Annie M

    As someone who lives in a flood zone, had flood insurance and then saw FEMA give out more money to those who had absolutely NO flood insurance than those of us who are paying over $2,000 a year JUST for flood insurance – you can’t make a comparison. FEMA screwed most of us who did have flood insurance with Sandy and doled out millions to those who didn’t. Go figure the reasoning.

    Your comparison would make sense if FEMA did.